IT'S OBAMA: Four more years for president
Washington, November 7, 2012
President Barack Obama won re-election to a second term in the White House on Tuesday, television networks projected, beating Republican challenger Mitt Romney after a long and bitter campaign.
Obama defeated Romney in a series of key swing states despite a weak economic recovery and persistent high unemployment as US voters decided between two starkly different visions for the country.
Obama's victory in the hotly contested swing state of Ohio - as projected by TV networks - put him over the top in the fight for the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the White House and ended Romney's hopes of pulling off a string of swing-state upsets.
Obama scored narrow wins in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire - all states that Romney had contested - while the only swing state captured by Romney was North Carolina, according to network projections.
There was no immediate word from the Romney camp on the reported results.
At least 120 million American voters had been expected to cast votes in the race between the Democratic incumbent and Romney after a campaign focused on how to repair the ailing US economy.
Obama enters his second four-year term faced with a difficult task of tackling $1 trillion annual deficits, reducing a $16 trillion national debt, overhauling expensive social programs and dealing with a gridlocked US Congress that looked likely to maintain the same partisan makeup.
Obama's projected victory would set the country's course for the next four years on spending, taxes, healthcare, the role of government and foreign policy challenges such as the rise of China and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Each man offered different policies to cure what ails America's weak economy, with Obama pledging to raise taxes on the wealthy and Romney offering across-the-board tax cuts as a way to ignite strong economic growth.
Inside Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters, staffers erupted into cheers and high fives as state after state was called for the president.
Obama watched the returns on television at his Chicago home. Senior campaign strategist David Axelrod said via email that he was feeling "great."
Romney made last-minute visits to Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday to try to drive up turnout in those states, while Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to Ohio. Obama remained in his hometown of Chicago.
In the US system, the Electoral College, not the popular vote, actually elects the president. There are 538 members of the Electoral College, allotted to each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Two hundred seventy votes are needed to win the election.
So far, according to projections by TV networks, Obama will win 281 electoral college races, while Romney will win 206.
Television networks projected Romney the winner, as expected, in Republican states Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana. He was declared the winner in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Obama was projected the winner in the Democratic strongholds of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and his home state of Illinois, as well as Washington, D.C.
Expressing confidence before the polls closed, Romney told reporters on his plane as he flew back to Boston that he had written only one speech for evening, one celebrating his victory.
"I'm very proud of the campaign that I've run, to tell you the truth," he said. "I'm sure like any campaign, people can talk to mistakes, but that's going to be part of anything that's produced by human beings," he said.
The multimillionaire former head of a private equity firm and a former governor of Massachusetts, Romney would be the first Mormon president and one of the wealthiest Americans to assume the nation's highest office.
Obama, the country's first black president, sought to avoid being relegated to a single term, something that has happened to only one of the previous four occupants of the White House.
COMPLAINTS AND FRUSTRATION
Although voting appeared to go smoothly in most places, complaints about procedures and possible irregularities surfaced sporadically across the electoral map. But there were no immediate claims of anything widespread or systematic enough to cast doubt on the credibility of the election outcome.
Storm-weary residents across New York and New Jersey encountered long lines as they went to cast their ballots just over a week after the devastating storm Sandy caused havoc in the region. New Jersey granted a last-minute extension to the deadline for email voting.
The balance of power in the US Congress was also at stake in races for the Senate and House of Representatives that could affect the outcome of "fiscal-cliff" negotiations on spending cuts and tax increases, which kick in at the end of the year unless a deal is reached.
Obama's Democrats are now expected to narrowly hold their Senate majority, while Romney's Republicans were projected to retain House control.
Democrat Claire McCaskill retained her US Senate seat from Missouri, beating Republican congressman Todd Akin, who stirred controversy with his comment in August that women's bodies could ward off pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape."
Democrats gained a Senate seat in Indiana that had been in Republican hands for decades after Republican candidate Richard Mourdock called pregnancy from rape something that God intended. Democratic congressman Joe Donnelly won the race.
In another high-profile Senate race, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a law professor who headed the watchdog panel that oversaw the government's financial sector bailout, defeated incumbent Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown.
Former Maine Governor Angus King won a three-way contest for the Senate seat of retiring Republican Olympia Snowe. King ran as an independent, but he is expected to caucus with Democrats in what would amount to a Democratic pick-up.
Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson easily beat back a challenge from Republican congressman Connie Mack to win a third term, while Democratic congressman Chris Murphy beat Republican Linda McMahon, a businesswoman who had served as chief executive of a professional wrestling company. - Reuters